Hello dear readers! My apologies for the silence of the last month and a half. There has been quite the development around my household: a tiny human is on the way! A tiny boy human to be specific. My better half and I are getting ready to welcome Jameson Patrick into our world in April of 2018 and many things fell to the sidelines with the hustle and bustle of our inbound drool factory. But I’m back to fill your brains with the drippings of mine so perk up and get ready to think about stuff!
Let’s jump right in…
How many of us were told as children that we must take credit for our actions? Usually after being caught doing something we shouldn’t be doing, some adult in charge of us would quiet our attempts at various excuses by telling us that we can’t blame anyone else for what we’ve done. It seems like a simple lesson that we are eager to impart to children; don’t pass off the repercussions of your actions onto others.
Something happens when we reach adulthood. Our simple childhood lesson fades away in favor of personal benefit. The very integrity we try to instill in our children becomes “do as I say, not as I do”. As adults we allow greed and personal desire drive our reaction to failure. We turn into these scapegoat seeking puppies with our tail between our legs. Spewing things like “But Joe told me to do it this way” and “I wouldn’t have ended up in this predicament if you had just done what you were supposed to” or my personal favorite, the deflection: “Well yeah, but did you see what they did?”. Every environment has the obvious guilty parties, but we all play the game. Every last one of us is guilty to some degree and if we can position ourselves to a better spot we try to manipulate the situation to our benefit regardless of the morals we shred in the process.
It has become so embedded in our culture that we’ve elected a President that lives by this. President Trump shoves negative situations on every party he can think of other than himself or the people he needs to depend on at the moment. His appointment is understandable as a confused over correction by a sizable portion of the country that felt the need for change. Many of whom pushed so hard for an “outside of the box” President that they put their support behind a candidate who tries to shift blame away from himself and his voters. Some of the voters recognized that the system was broken and that Americans were due for a change of politician, but the most consistent, reliable quality of President Trump is his proclivity to never take credit for negative results or admit fault. I don’t care to delve too deep into the how and why of current U.S. politics or how I believe that, while painful and frustrating, this is a very necessary and long overdue period of growth for the country. Maybe another time…
Back to the main point of how we all suck and shove blame on one another.
Okay so we don’t all suck, but I think there is a sense of honesty that we all have within us to combat our primal urges of greed and survival. We have built a society that has grown more complex than our minds are conditioned for and the need for the basic survival instincts that fuel this deflective behavior is fading.
What will it take to see ethical and moral ramifications taken into account on a small, day to day scale? What can we do to be honest with each other and own our mistakes? Sure, almost everyone can decide that war is bad and corporations stealing retirement funds is a big negative for public relations, but how about admitting that you forgot to complete a project? What about being honest with your spouse that you became wrapped up at work with an unexpected call and you legitimately forgot to stop and grab milk on your way home? Or even that you became lost in your thoughts, daydreaming about sitting on a beach sipping a cocktail while the sun goes down? It needs to be okay to be honest when you made a legitimate mistake and the responsibility of the receiver of this information is to listen. To earnestly listen and do your best to understand how the mistake was made and how it fits into the speaker’s personality and character. As a manager, take a second to consider your employee’s reason for missing a deadline. You can be critical and react more succinctly when you don’t immediately think of how their action will damage your reputation or how you might miss a bonus. Think of how to prevent this mistake from happening again. As the spouse, look to your partner as a collaborator. Don’t blow up at them over a shopping trip missed or clothes left unfolded.
Our reactions to these situations matter just as much as being honest with each other. If we expect the receiver of our message to explode in anger or punish more harshly than deserved then we are more likely to use bogus excuses and shift the blame somewhere else. But this is a poisonous, cyclical path. It may seem naive to pitch in this day and age and it may seem like small actions make no change, but like a million self-help books have said “Every big journey begins with a single step”. Its corny and cliche because it’s the truth. Small actions and a shift in attitude really does change your environment.
Each of us is responsible for our little world, our bubble. The better we act to those we meet in our bubble the more we start to influence the world. How many times has a stranger’s patience or understanding nature improved your day? Now apply that to your work and personal life and watch how much better we all feel. I know, easier said than done. It is simple to outline and really damn hard to implement. Outward patience can be the result of an internal struggle and temper tantrum as long as the external world isn’t subjected to your undue scapegoating and negativity.
Own your decisions, mistakes, and successes. Shifting blame onto another is wasteful and serves no purpose if you do it for no reason other than to get the attention off of you to seem less at fault. Accept that you may have done less than you could have or that you have made a mistake, apologize if necessary, and improve yourself for the next time.
Unless the person really is a scumbag that screwed everything up. In that case don’t jump on their grenade.